Sweet and Savory Overnight Roast Pork

By • May 26, 2014 • 52 Comments

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Serves 8 to 10

  • 1 four-pound boneless pork butt (from a butcher you know, well-marbled, and with a good layer of fat on top)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle (plus more to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Tie the pork butt with twine in several places so that it cooks evenly. Salt it generously all over and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
  2. In the meantime, combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, mustard, thyme, garlic and chipotle powder in a small bowl. Add a few pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper.
  3. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. When the pork is at room temperature and the oven is hot, smear the sugar, mustard and garlic mixture all over the pork, concentrating a good amount of it on the top pf the roast, where the fat is. Nestle the pork (fat-side-up) into a roasting pan or cast iron baking dish just big enough to hold it, and put it in the oven. When you start to smell garlic and sugar burning, and after no longer than 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 200 degrees. (Do not open the oven door to peek!)
  4. Leave the pork in the oven overnight, for at least 6 hours and up to 8. When you wake up in the morning your house will smell intoxicating, and the pork will be ready to shred and pack up for lunches for the whole family -- all you need is a soft roll and some coleslaw or pickled fennel, or a big pile of mashed potatoes.
Jump to Comments (52)

Tags: cooking for kids, overnight cooking

Comments (52) Questions (3)

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1 day ago vgonyea

So, I'm the one who lost the cast iron skillet over this one a few months ago and speculated whether the use of the convection oven might've caused that. My question on that has not yet been answered so it took me a while to try it again and here are the modifications I made:
1. I did not use my (now new) cast iron skillet. I used a large, round corningware dish with a lid (like this one: http://www.amazon.com/CorningWare... ).

2. For the first high-temp period, I put it in for 8 minutes, then I took it out and basted it (using my turkey baster). Then put it back in for 3 minutes (still at high temp), then took it out again and basted it again. When I returned it to the oven the second time, I covered it. Did 3 more minutes at the high temp and THEN I lowered it to 200. Total time at high heat was 14 minutes.

3. After 7 hours, I checked the internal temp...it wasn't up to 205 (which is when it becomes "pullable" according to others here, which seems to be correct) so I took off the lid, re-basted it, raised the heat to 260 and then checked the internal temp every hour afterward until I got to 205. It was 2 more hours.

It is perfect, succulent and delicious. It practically pulls itself apart. I don't have as hard of a "bark" as others here have achieved BUT, I do have a delicious "crust" (not as thick as a bark) and I also don't have a ruined pan. A delicious success!

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2 days ago LBE

I made this last night. I'm not convinced yet, the interior was not as savory or as juicy as I anticipated. After shredding I used the pan drippings (drained the fat first) and tossed it into the shredded meat. That was a good move imo.
I will toss the left overs w pasta tonight, maybe with Marcel Hazan's Tomato Sauce.

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7 days ago Suparna Basu-Ravis

Husband made this today. Only change was adding shallots. This was the real thing. Absolutely amazing and satisfying. Beautiful combination of flavors and meat was cooked to perfection.

Stringio

8 days ago Alma Sisk

I had to try this and while it turned out very tasty, just as others had mentioned, it did not shred well. That's not to say it can't be done. I think, as was also mentioned, I did not have enough fat cap thus resulting in a leaner cut of meat. So I shredded as best I could, put it back in the roasting pan with a generous amount of BBQ sauce, covered it with foil, stuck it in a 200 degree oven, and let it warm for a few hours as I waited for guests to arrive. It was delicious. I will definitely make this again...with one that has more fat :)

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16 days ago DogBisquit

I discovered Boston Butt from a friend, and Southern BBQ restaurateur. This cut is cheap, versatile and delicious! I've tried cooking it half a dozen ways, but always covered. I've abandoned the crockpot for my Dutch oven, and have never had as much success cooking in liquid (oil, beer, broth), as I have roasting.

I usually apply a dry rub hours ahead, or the night before, followed by pan searing to help develop the bark. Sometimes I will cut the roast into 3" cubes to increase the surface area, which also increases the flavor of the seasoning, and I can fit more meat in the pot. This also seem to diminish the cooking time (a little). I will try uncovering the meat next time, probably for the last 30 minutes, and spike the heat. As my friend always said, "It's all about the bark".

Being a single guy, I'll divide the meat into single size portions for freezing. I don't fully shred the roast, but rather pull it into small chunks. The beauty of this is you don't really have to thaw it to use as an ingredient, just let the heat of the preparation warm it up, and you can shred it then.

One of my favorites is using Mexican spices, like cumin and dried chili power, during the initial preparation. I lay the frozen chunks out on a sheet pan and squeeze some citrus (orange or lime, not lemon) over them, and place under a broiler until caramelized. Instant Carnitas!

I've never paid attention to the internal temperature. Take it out of the oven and pull it apart with a couple forks. If it not ready then put it back in the oven(!) for another hour or more. It will tell you when it's done.

Stringio

16 days ago michelle_brown

I have an All-Clad crock pot that I can use on a burner to brown meat and then drop it in the mechanism. Do you think this could be made on the lowest setting of a crock pot (as long as it is browned first)?

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27 days ago Kevin French

Finally had the opportunity to try this recipe, and it was great. Due to ours being an 8lb boneless butt, 15 hours in (I pulled it when it was in the 160's, so it did not shred) and it sliced really well as this cut of meat will do. The flavors of the rub were fantastic. We will trim the next one to two 4lb pieces and do this again - smaller only so the flavor of the rub will be even more intense. Great recipe! Thanks!

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4 months ago Dflip

Kevin added some valuable information below about the internal cooking temperature which is a lot higher than most would suspect. The desired temperature for pork butt that you want to pull is 200 - 203 degrees F. If the butt has a bone the meat goes through a stall at 150 - 160 degrees which can take a couple of hours. I'm not sure if there is not a stall that also occurs with the boneless butt. The stall will result in meat that is cooked to a specific time that will taste fine, but will not shred. You must use an instant read thermometer or a probe to see if it's done. It tastes even better with the bone in, but you will have to deal with the stall. For more information on the smoking process, but also great information about cooking pork butts, check out this link, http://amazingribs.com...

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4 months ago Kevin French

The "stall", or as some call it, the "plateau", is a direct result of evaporation from the surface area of the meat. This happens to bone-in and boneless roasts alike. There are only two ways to deal with this, cover it in foil or cook uncovered until the evaporation cycle ends. Getting through this point can sometime take an hour or more (depending on humidity and heat levels).

While it can be frustrating, cooking through this evaporation phase is essential to getting a good crust on the exterior of the meat. Some like to wrap their product in foil, to push through this plateau, and uncover for the last 30 minutes to firm up the bark.

For this recipe, and for this cut of meat, I would not wrap it in foil as you would loose a good deal of the texture that is produced from this rub.

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7 months ago Dimply Dots

We loved the flavor of this!! Even the picky three year old gobbled it up. Our pork butt also did not "shred" as much as we thought, but I didn't mind one bit really. truly great and easy recipe with wonderful favors. Make this now!

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7 months ago vgonyea

Sigh....I was soooo excited about this! I tried it this weekend, here are my variables:
3.85 lb shoulder with fat cap
Good ol' cast iron skillet, uncovered
Initial time at high temp 12 minutes, then reduced to 200 degrees
Internal temp was to 205 when I pulled it out (about 8 hours)

Problem...."good ol' cast iron skillet" mentioned above (not aluminized, the real deal) did not survive! I've had this skillet for many years but this actually took the bottom surface off, leaving the bare silver iron below! Heartbroken.
And, after all that the meat was NOT shreddible. Tasty, but not shreddible. And I lost my favorite skillet...after about 7 years or regular ("go-to") use. So sad, it's actually hard to even write this.
ONLY other variable that I can come up with is that my oven is convection...otherwise, I followed the instructions to the "T". Could convection REALLY have done that, even at such a low temp of 200 degrees? The meat was cooked and it was delicious...and the pan has been regularly seasoned, on an as-needed basis over the years.

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Oh, no! I'm so sorry to hear this. The not-shreddable situation is one that others have apparently encountered as well -- probably has to do with the specific pork butt you used (my guy sells a really fatty version that's mostly "dark" meat). As for the skillet, I really don't know what to say! I've never heard of this happening before, and I use my cast iron skillet every time I make this. This could be a good topic for our Hotline -- other cooks may have had similar experiences and might be able to offer some wisdom/advice.

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6 months ago Souhaite

Has anyone been able to figure out whether convection makes that much of an impact? I've got my pork butt in gear, but have a convection-only oven!

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8 months ago Jennifer Hillyer

One more question...I have 2 pork butts...how would I adjust the time & temp to cook both at the same time?

Merrill

8 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Don't think you need to adjust anything -- just leave yourself a little extra time in case they need to cook longer!

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8 months ago Jennifer Hillyer

Can I use a different cut of meat such as a shoulder?

Merrill

8 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, the butt comes from the shoulder, and you can use other parts of the shoulder too.

Smallerwhitandaxel

4 months ago Whitney GB

does anyone else think it's rather confusing that the butt comes from the shoulder. For years, this has both amused and confused.

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8 months ago aarin

I just made this with a 3lb roast. It was tough and not shreddable after 9 hours (uncovered) so I put it in for 2 more. My oven may have been running a lower temperature but it's a good reminder to check temp and give yourself more time if needed. The crust was lovely and we enjoyed the sweetness but the garlic was a bit burned (even though I didn't burn it badly in the first 10 min at the high temp).

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8 months ago Grinelda

This sounds just like my favorite go-to pork recipe for a crowd -- my beloved 12-hour ham! My recipe is much simpler, although I'm going to try Merrill's next time. I buy a big, inexpensive, bone-in pork butt and start it early in the morning, putting it all by itself in a roasting pan (no cover) in a 225 degree oven. The timing is approximate; 12 hours would be for a really big pork butt, 10-11 hours for a smaller one. About 1/2 hour before I plan to serve it, I spoon a jar of apricot-pineapple preserves over it. Sometimes I have to cut through the fat layer at the end to let the meat "escape", and then it just falls apart. I usually serve it hot with side dishes the first night, and then as pulled pork sandwiches for as many lunches or dinner as the leftovers will last. Easy and delicious!

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8 months ago dagatekeeper

VickyD, Mine just came out of the oven. I cooked it in a cast iron "DouFeu" cast iron casserole pan. Removed the lid for the last 30 minutes so it could caramelize all over but it was well on its way to that "stage" with the lid on. Wish I could upload a photo. Already had to make sure it was fork tender. Several times.

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8 months ago dagatekeeper

Not sure why I said cast iron twice...lol

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8 months ago VickyD

Has anyone tried this covered? I did a 2 lb piece of pork, but still used most of the sauce and have it in the oven in my Le Creuset. I'm tempted to cover it to make sure it stays moist but I was looking forward to that crispy coating...

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8 months ago VickyD

Thanks dagatekeeper! I ended up leaving the lid on the whole time and it turned out great. Even still had some crispy bits but was fork tender and shredded right up (which is what I was going for).

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8 months ago VickyD

Oh and I used my big ol' Le Creuset dutch oven.

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8 months ago dagatekeeper

Found myself a cute Boston Butt - just 3 pounds. Will adjust the timing and perhaps a wee bit of the spices then do what I normally do for the giant versions - set it and forget it. It would be difficult to have that wonderful aroma throughout the house when trying to sleep. Going to use a cast iron pan this time but normally use my mother in law's vintage roasting pan. Now officially hungry and the meat is still coming to room temp!

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8 months ago Kevin French

Will be making this soon and will report back how it goes.

To address some of the reviews here, pork butts (well, meat in general) pulls somewhere between 195-205 degrees internal. Anything less will probably result in a product better suited for slicing. A fine product, but not shredded. The recipe here is right on for technique, but the preparer would be well served to check internal temps as every piece of meat responds differently to heat and time.

Covering the meat, with foil or a lid to steam or braise, will get the job done quickly, but you will soften the bark - or crust - of the meat. If you choose this method, you can regain some of this if you uncover the meat again for 30 minutes when nearly done to allow the crust to dry again.

Will keep you posted on how this turns out!

Merrill

8 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for the great tips!

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8 months ago maggie kilpatrick

OK so I accidentally bought a huge pork butt - 11 pounds. I'm assuming I can adjust the cooking time for the larger piece of meat? I can also cut it if that makes more sense. I'll plan to use it for my teenage sons friends - nothing is ever too big for that crowd!

Merrill

8 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You'll just want to cook it longer -- for 10-12 hours, I think.

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8 months ago Cookie maven

Tender and delicious! I love how it is so simple to prep and cooks over night. Thank you Merrill for sharing a wonderful recipe!